A splendid day in Cartagena de las Indias
Trip Start Aug 30, 2007
7Trip End Sep 11, 2007
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I got a better idea of what to expect in Ciudad Perdida since Gilberto used to be a guide there. And just as I´ve read in the stories by García Márquez, he described the lights in the distance high up in indigenous villages of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, where the family of the author´s inlaws took their daughter on a dreadful journey in hopes of discouraging her from marrying Gabriel´s father. But what most interested Gilberto was the current security situation Colombia is now experiencing as people from Bogotá, Medellín and Cali are traveling to Cartagena for the first time in decades, which is great for business. Both Jimmy and Gilberto made many references to Bush Jr. when speaking of Uribe and his hardline stance towards la guerrilla and terrorism in general. La guerrilla has been corraled within this country and has no access to the sea besides Buenaventura, where they smuggle their drugs through.
It´s nice to see and listen to the upbeat attitude of people here when contemplating the future of their war-torn nation, but it hasn´t come without a price. Uribe may be tough towards the FARC and ELN, but he has succeeded in pushing them back by supporting and financing the paramilitaries (often referred to as death squads), whose crimes are well-known. And just like any other band of soldiers (or politicians), they too are involved in the drug trade. As I´ve heard over and over again, so long as the gringos want drugs Colombia will continue to produce and export them. I can´t say I blame them. The drug trade is so huge that it has even done away with the ideology of the Marxists, who long ago actually stood for something but today are simply fighting for control of the coca-growing regions of the country. Sadly, the victims of the bloody battle are often the hardscrabble farmers who want nothing but a chance to eke out a living in peace. Knowing that the northern desire for blow at the party plays a huge role in this reality is tragic...
Tomorrow I head out to Santa Marta bright and early to pay for my excursion to Ciudad Perdida before the travel agency closes for the day. Time to enjoy some good food before I´m reduced to rice and beans for six days...